2020 has brought so much sorrow and pain to the world, in particular our country which experienced at the beginning of the year a volcanic eruption and now the compounding impact of two recent destructive typhoons. All this untold suffering has been affecting people’s mental/emotional health.
I understand the different emotions that come with grief because every now and then, when I think of my parents, I feel sad. The pain of losing them may have lessened due to the passage of time — and I have accepted their passing as a natural consequence of their illness in their old age — yet it still hurts.
But for countless of people who lost their loved ones to Covid-19 or to natural calamities that took place this year as well as to other causes, it must be/have been more devastating and unbearable. Most deaths were unexpected. Countless were not given the chance to say a proper goodbye or hold their loved ones for the last time or even see them off for burial.
It was just timely that a good friend and former classmate of mine at graduate school invited me to his webinar on mental health awareness, “Building Our Mental Health in the New Normal,” wherein he discussed about loss and grief, among other things.
As my friend stressed in his presentation, “the pandemic has not spared anyone – young and old, rich and poor, male and female – around the world. We are all in the same boat, but our reactions to the stresses brought about by this health crisis, including natural calamities, differ from one another.”
Here I share the 5 essential lessons about GRIEF you should know and how to cope in order to help keep your balance. This is also important if you happen to be in a position to help someone who is grieving over a loss.
Grief comes in different stages. The conventional stages as developed by Elizabeth Kubler Ross in 1969, and which most of us are familiar with, include:
Today, there’s a new set of stages of grief – that which has been developed by Jill Johnson-Young:
- Going through the trauma/crisis
- Going through what is left over
- Finishing with the relationship that was left undone
- Saying goodbye and reorganizing
- Bringing the lessons and realizations to our new world, especially in our prayers
- Honoring your feelings; all feelings are valid
Grief is not just about the loss of loved ones, but also about the loss of something, such as jobs, finances, relationships, etc. In this pandemic time, grief is also about the loss of the freedom you have been used to because of lockdown and quarantine protocols.
Grief is not linear in the sense that you need to go through from stage 1 to the next – No. Rather, grief is a process. So when we help people with their grieving process, it is not about the stages of grief, but it is meeting people where they are.
Finding meaning is the sixth (6th) stage of grief, according to author David Kessler, beyond those more familiar stages mentioned above. Finding meaning in our loss(es) can help transform grief into a more peaceful and hopeful experience.
Especially in this time of the pandemic, in this New Normal of our life today, finding meaning is part of how we can develop our Emotional Hygiene.
Other invaluable insights about coping with a loss I picked up from the webinar:
- In the new normal, we need to have a New Mindset coupled with Action in order to get New Results.
- Meaning is our response to our loss.
- Meaning is what we do after we have learned to accept. It does not and cannot take away the pain. It helps us move on.
- Loss is what happens in life. Meaning is what you make happen after the loss.
Finally, we need to be gentle and compassionate with ourselves. We need to be kind. Kindness matters in our healing process and those of others.
All these and more I have learned from that enlightening webinar, “Building Our Mental Health in the New Normal,” facilitated by my good friend, Dr. Nelson C. Magnaye, of Ateneo de Davao University. I highly recommend it.
If your school or workplace or community/family may find the need for a facilitated learning on how to keep your mental health in the new normal, please get in touch with him through his LinkedIn profile.
The webinar is good for 90 minutes and is ideal for 50 participants via Zoom.